Can you think of a better way for Jesus to laugh at the world that killed him, than to rise from the dead? Of all the practical jokes I've done or have had done to me, not of them came close to what God pulled off.
I’m not so sure Mary or the others saw the humor in God’s little prank. I doubt anyone was laughing when they ran to the tomb or saw that the stone had been tampered with – and for good reason. You see, the religious and political leaders came together one last time and agreed that the tomb should be sealed to make sure no pranks could be had.
The women knew the rules: if anyone broke the official seal, they would be found liable of treason and death. Now imagine getting arrested for playing a practical joke – the Whoopie Cushion industry would be out of business. Joy buzzers would be banned, and comedy clubs would be pushed underground.
But this doesn’t stop Mark, or the other gospel writers, from adding a little comic relief to this very serious story. Take, for example, the young man who was dressed in a white robe. Was he just on the way to a bath when he stumbled upon this open tomb?
Can we safely assume this guy is an angel if for no other reason than he greets the women with the first rule found in the Angel’s Handbook, “When coming in contact with a human being, be sure to remind them not to be afraid, other wise they might freak out.”
“Do not be afraid.” You have to admit there is something funny about that. Mary witnessed her friend’s execution because of his religious beliefs, and now his tomb has been tampered with. And his body is missing.
If you’re not supposed to be afraid in a situation like this then what should you do? Laugh? They were terrified, and ran away. Can you blame them?
As Barbara Brown Taylor muses, “Once a human being goes into the ground, that is that. You do not wait around for the person to reappear so you can pick up where you left off- at least not this side of the grave. You say good-bye; pay your respects; and go on with your life as best you can.”
Nowhere in their wildest imaginations did these women expect Jesus to jump out from behind the rock and shout, “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera.”
I now know his amazing gift is not simply a bridge between death and life; it’s a shared connection with a God who loves me just as I am. And that too makes me laugh. Who am I to deserve such grace?
Have you ever felt that way – unworthy or unforgivable? Mary Magdalene did. So did Peter and all the others. This is why it’s called the Good News. What’s that saying? “God loves us where we are, but loves us too much to leave us there.” Surprise! Resurrection!
Maybe it's time to roll back the stone that is keeping you from welcoming God’s love and grace into your life. Despite your shortcomings or lack of commitment to God, God still remains committed to you, and loves you unconditionally, just as you are.
Take a look inside that dark tomb of yours. Whatever you have going on in your life ask God to resurrect it and transform it into something meaningful and truly life giving.
And you might want to try turning your ear towards the angels that God has provided for you. Hear what they say. And be not afraid.
Instead of looking for Jesus in all the stuff in your life that represents death,… seek to be like Jesus, and live as he did, in every aspect of your life.
Remember the women did not find a decomposing corpse. They found an empty tomb! And soon all of his followers would discover that Jesus not only walks among us, but he also walks through us so that others may come to see in us God’s amazing power and receive the great Easter gift for themselves.
If you are to leave here today with one thing planted in your heart, may it be this: Resurrection was not a one-time occurrence. God’s been doing it since the beginning of our time – transforming a galaxy of dead stars into a universe of living planets. Science confirms this notion. And one needs to look no further than where you’re sitting to see how God is working in you.
I planted these flowers last year for Easter. They are annuals which live for one or two of the four seasons and that’s about it.
These made it through spring last year, but quickly burned up in the hot summer sun. This planter was filled with nothing but hard dry dirt. And yet, here they are again.
What was once dead came back to life - all without any human interference.
Resurrection is the cycle of life; the completion of the incarnation; and the birth of a new creation. Easter is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of an amazing new journey that God wants to turn into an amazing new you. Surprised? I’m not, because Jesus Christ has risen from the grave.
Taylor, Barbara Brown. Home By Another Way. (Crowley: 1999)
Rohr, Richard. Immortal Diamond. (Jossey-Bass: 2013) pp.83-90.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”